- The revenge factor will come into play this week when Chad Pennington faces off against his former team the Jets. Give Pennington the nod because he’s been hot; he has five touchdowns in his last two games. New York has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to QBs, so there’s a good chance Pennington delivers multiple scores again. He threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns back in Week 1 against the Jets.
- Look for fireworks in Denver this week when the Broncos and Chargers battle it out for the AFC West crown. The Vegas odds makers put the over/under at 50.5 points. I think 60 could be scored. Neither team has an elite defense. Both teams like to chuck it deep. Plus, there’s no love lost between QBs Phillip Rivers and Jay Cutler. They’ve exchanged heated words on and off the field. They’ll be trying to one-up each other on Sunday. The last time Rivers and Cutlers faced one another, they combined for seven passing scores. Look for at least six between them this week.
- He’s playable but reduce your expectations for Donovan McNabb this week against the Cowboys. In his last seven outings versus the division rival, McNabb has only once recorded multiple touchdowns.
- With the Cardinals staggering and stumbling to the playoffs, look for QB Kurt Warner to play a full game or nearly a full game Sunday against the Seahawks. The team needs to regain its continuity before the postseason and won’t be able to do so with Warner on the bench. Play him this week if you normally would. Seattle has allowed the third most fantasy points to QBs. Warner recorded a combined 732 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games against Seattle.
This Week’s Sleepers: Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kyle Orton
- Give New York backups Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw the start this week. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin says he’ll play his starters, but Ward and Bradshaw figure to do the heavy lifting against the Vikings as the Giants look to protect Brandon Jacobs. Ward needs just 52 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. If he gets it, the Giants would become just the third NFL team to have two 1,000 yard rushers in a season. Both he and Bradshaw should post 75+ yards against Minnesota, which will be without run stuffer Pat Williams.
- Steelers RB Willie Parker has a long history of shredding the Browns. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games and five of his last six against Cleveland. That’s the good news. The bad news is he might rest this week. Start backup Mewelde Moore instead in the hopes that Moore can have similar success.
- The once mighty Jets run defense has given up 100 yard rushing performances in back-to-back weeks. Ronnie Brown owners can start the Miami RB with some confidence this week. Brown was held in check earlier this year by New York, but he’s historically performed well against them. Prior to this year’s matchup with the Jets, he’d delivered 100+ yards and three total touchdowns in three consecutive games.
- Get New England’s LaMont Jordan some work this week against the Bills. Buffalo has allowed four rushing scores over their last two games. Jordan is now the Patriots goal-line back and should get a couple cracks at crossing the stripe this week.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ahmad Bradshaw, Mewelde Moore, LaMont Jordan and Tashard Choice
- Patriots wideout Randy Moss has nine touchdowns in six career meetings against the Bills. With New England’s playoff lives on the line, look for the team to make every effort to get the ball in its best player’s hands early and often. Moss should end the day with 100 yards and a touchdown.
- Lee Evans has faced the Patriots nine times in his career. In those games, Buffalo’s top receiver has zero touchdowns and he’s never had a 100-yard game. In his last five meetings with New England, Evans has been a complete bust—not once contributing more than 40 yards. He’s benchable this week.
- It’s difficult to predict how much work Carolina wideout Steve Smith will get this week against the Saints, but owners should keep him active and hope for an early TD strike. Smith has scored a touchdown in six of his last seven meetings with New Orleans. Earlier this season he burned them for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Saints have allowed the fifth most fantasy points to WRs this season.
- Houston’s Andre Johnson was held in check by Oakland’s Nnamadi Asomugha last week, but look for a bounce-back game against the Bears. Chicago has the 28th ranked pass defense. They allowed multiple passing touchdowns in both of their last two games despite inclement weather conditions. This game will be played in Houston, so look for Johnson to post his usual 120 yards and a touchdown.
This Week’s Sleepers: Devery Henderson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Mark Clayton, Ted Ginn Jr. and Deion Branch
- If he guts it out and plays through his ankle injury, Jason Witten should be in your lineup assuming you don’t have a clear alternative. Witten has lit up the Eagles lately. In his last three games against Philly, he’s put up over 100 yards or scored a touchdown. The fact that the Eagles have allowed the seventh most fantasy points to TEs this season will help Witten’s cause.
- If you need a TE to plug in this week, give Green Bay’s Donald Lee a look. Wideouts Donald Driver and Greg Jennings were both injured in Monday night’s game against the Bears. Jennings will likely play. Driver looks iffy. Even if both start, Lee should benefit and play prominently in the final box score. Detroit has allowed the second most fantasy points to TEs this season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Donald Lee and Tony Scheffler
- Start Seattle’s Olindo Mare this week against the Cardinals. Arizona has allowed 35 or more points in four of their last five games. Mare has scored seven or more points in three of his last four outings. He should approach double digits this week.
- Check the weather forecasts in New York, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Green Bay before trusting any of the kickers who will be playing in those cities this week. The extended forecast indicates potentially poor conditions in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Explore alternatives to kickers like Stephen Gostkowski and Jeff Reed if things start to look bad.
This Week’s Sleepers: Olindo Mare and Matt Stover
- Owners who have been riding the Indianapolis Colts defense throughout their playoff run may want to jump ship this week when they face the Titans. Tennessee makes very few mental mistakes. Thus they’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. The Titans have allowed just nine interceptions and nine sacks all season.
This Week’s Sleepers: Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins
This Week's Six-Pack: Long Hammer IPA
Origin: Redhook Ale Brewery, Woodinville, WA
Appearance: Longhammer IPA comes in a brown longneck emblazoned with the Redhook logo and a label that’s split in the middle with the bottle showing through. In the glass it looks perhaps a bit clearer and more yellowish than other IPAs. The head resembled soap suds but diminished rapidly.
Smell: I anticipated a strong hop aroma but it was absent. The smell overall was lacking. A deep, deep inhale revealed some herbal qualities.
Taste: As far as IPAs go, this one is relatively bland. The hops are subdued. As the beer warmed some more flavors spilled out—particularly a citrus/grapefruit taste, pine and some sweet malts. Overall, there was something artificial about the entire taste experience.
Drinkability: The mouthfeel is greasy or buttery. Carbonation is well balanced. ABV is 6.5%. Relatively easy to drink if you can get by past the “fake” bitterness and lack of depth.
Last Call: Red Hook’s Long Hammer IPA rates low in comparison to competing American pale ales. There’s nothing to hang your hat on with this beer . . . no signature quality. Two stars out of five.
Next Week's Six-Pack: See you next year!